I am honored to lead the Resources Division at LifeWay and serve with a team of leaders who are passionate to serve the Church in her mission of making disciples. Each Wednesday, I share the heart behind one of the resources our team has developed and give an opportunity for you to register to win a free copy of the resource. This week’s resource is Christ-Centered Parenting by Russell Moore and Phillip Bethancourt. This blog was adapted from Christ-Centered Parenting: Gospel Conversations on Complex Cultural Issues by Russell Moore and Phillip Bethancourt.
Internet technology is here to stay. In so many ways, the Internet and digital media have become integrated into our everyday lives. But as we’ve seen, this technology presents many unique challenges for Christian parents and their children. As parents, we need to think carefully about the best ways to equip our children to use this technology responsibly, but we must also prayerfully consider how we will act to protect our kids from the dangers and pitfalls of technology. All of this will require serious effort.
Many parents falsely assume that setting up simple boundaries and parameters for online activity is an adequate solution.
Of course, boundaries are a necessary and helpful step, but the real issue lies deeper. Our real concern as parents is to make sure that, in addition to monitoring the use of technology in our home, we are constantly monitoring the hearts of our children. This is necessary because, ultimately, the technology isn’t the problem. Instead, it is our use of things like smartphones and computers that reveals the sinful desires in our hearts.
If we are to raise our children to use technology in a responsible way, then this will certainly include setting up appropriate boundaries; it will also require us to teach our children how to root out idols (1 John 5:18-21).
This is about more than protecting them from evil; it is about teaching them to pursue what is good (Rom. 12:9). Technology exposes our idolatry. Combating the misuse or overuse of technology is important, but parents must always remember that a child’s behavior is nothing more than a reflection of his or her heart. And just like yours, those hearts are full of idols. But as you work toward these deeper issues, setting up appropriate boundaries can be very helpful. Here are some helpful ways to do just that:
1. Allow your child to demonstrate responsibility in less consequential ways before giving them too much freedom.
For younger children, this could be as simple as setting a time limit on the use of a tablet or game console and allowing them to enforce the limit themselves. For older kids, it might be permission to establish social media accounts that you have the ability to monitor.
2. Make sure the lines of communication are open.
Create an environment that encourages your kids to come to you and to be honest with you about issues they face. If you know they have misused technology or been exposed to inappropriate content, give them the opportunity to speak about it honestly. Show them grace and help them overcome the temptation to lie or be deceitful.
3. Set mutually agreed upon limits.
As you determine these boundaries, allow your child to have input, and take those feelings into consideration. Explain the purpose of the limits. Help them see the positives in limiting screen time, and let them know you’re on their side.
4. For younger kids, take a hands-on approach.
Set definitive time limits for technology use and stick to them. Know what they are watching and playing, and have the necessary filters in place. Everything should go through your eyes first.
5. For older kids, take full advantage of technology-monitoring software.
You don’t have time to police every activity. Set up software that will allow you to see whom they are talking to online, and let them know that you will have access to whom they call and text on all devices. Emphasize that you are on their side and these measures are in place for their protection, not their punishment.
6. Finally, don’t put too much faith in your boundaries.
It’s easy to ride on cruise control thinking, “We have filters, so we’re good.” But the truth is, your kids, who are much more technologically savvy than you are, can find ways around filters and parental controls. More importantly, your children are sinners. Sin bleeds into every area of our lives and affects everything we do. If your child has access to technology, sin will lead to transgression and boundaries will be crossed.
This is a difficult burden. Our advice is to pray hard. Give grace as much as possible. Always let your kids know that they can come to you when they make mistakes. And always point them back to Jesus.
Enter here or in the form below by 11:59pm today, Wednesday, July 26, 2017 for your chance to win 1 of 5 copies of Christ-Centered Parenting Bible Study books.